By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
U.S. Sailors aboard the Blue Ridge-class command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) observe Memorial Day near the coast of Normandy, France, May 27, 2019.
“The Mount Whitney team is grateful that we were able to sail in these hallowed waters and pay tribute to those who liberated Europe and made the ultimate sacrifice for the defense of liberty at home and abroad,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, commanding officer of USS Mount Whitney.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of many significant events of World War II. A Memorial Day ceremony took place on Mount Whitney as the ship sailed past the beaches of Normandy, the same beaches used during the Allied invasion called “D-Day,” which took place as part of Operation Overlord on Tuesday, June 6, 1944.
“Just before we rendered honors today, we were able to broadcast the voice of General Dwight Eisenhower as he gave a speech to the Allied Forces just prior to D-Day,” said Capt. Norman. “We honor those who gave us the freedom we enjoy today by remaining postured and ready to face an increasingly dynamic security environment, not only in Europe but around the globe.”
On the Mount Whitney, the crew manned the rails and performed a 21 gun salute in honor of the Sailors, Soldiers, Airman, and Marines who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation, including the 4,414 who died on the beaches of Normandy. This year’s observance also highlighted partnerships forged during World War II which endure today as U.S. forces in Europe remain steadfast in their commitment to European Allies and partners.
“The officers, crew, and civilian mariners of the USS Mount Whitney remain forever indebted to WWII veterans for demonstrating the selfless service and sacrifice that characterized the Greatest Generation in defense of freedom, liberty, global peace, and security,” said Cmdr. Alexander McMahon, executive officer of the USS Mount Whitney.
Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.